On long, cold nights, Giddy finds herself running calloused hands over the lines and wrinkles of her body, feeling how age shapes and changes her. Not all are so lucky to see such changes she reminds herself. During the mornings before the girls wake, she does the same with her eyes. Noting again the changes and checking over her tattoos with a practiced eye. She watches for places where words or shapes wear away, on her hands, or places where her skin has begun to fold. She pulls out her pin out to go over the fading lines once more. Washes away the spots of blood that rise to the surface. She takes her time. Skin gets more fragile with age.
There's a spot on her leg she checks with particular care. On the back of calf, where she has to strain a bit to reach now, there sits a slice of personal history, hidden among the greater stories. Memories of the time before the girls and before even Joe. A time when she'd traveled alone, sharing the stories and learning new ones in return. Thin black lines circle the small pictograph of a leaf beginning to bloom from a seed. Sentences running up and down her calf and around it, outlining the women she'd met, out in the desert. In that oasis she'd stumbled upon. A permanent tribute to their kindness, and to the one in particular she'd remember for the rest of her days. The one with the seeds. A whole bag full of them! Planted in bones and cracked cups or stored in jars, waiting for the chance to bloom, the chance to transform the deadened soil all around them.
She's spent the night with this woman, listening to her tales, and feeling the first stirrings of hope after a long period of despair.
There were others out there she'd learned. Others trying to do good. Doing more than just killing or surviving.
She'd done the blooming leaf the next morning, steady lines and dots bring the image to life on tanned skin. One of the woman had asked for her own decoration afterwards. The feather of a bird Giddy had never seen before. She was always glad to pass on her skill. She'd asked her host if she wanted one as well but had been turned down with a smile and a shake of the head.
That night however, the woman with the seeds had pushed their bed rolls together and ran careful hands over the line of tattoos, as if she were trying to feel out the shape of the words.
Giddy had cherished those touches as she'd written the remembered stories into her leg in the weeks afterward. Sometimes now, in the early mornings, she lets herself read over the words, and remembers the woman that had touched her, and the group that had given her hope.
She would endure, and keep fighting to give these girls at least a better chance. One day…things would be better, and maybe, one day, she could find that woman again, and show her the multitude of new tattoos and stories she'd gained over the years.